Ann Saunders

Ann Saunders

I am an accessories designer specializing in handbags. As well as designing and managing my own brand, I also work with fashion entrepreneurs, and manufactures helping them to develop their product ranges. Advising on trends, colour, shape, materials and finishes.
I began my career working as a textile designer in Como, Italy, creating couture silk prints for luxury brands. The experience was an invaluable introduction to uniquely Italian blend of artisan skills and manufacture that has continued with me to this day.

From Italy I moved to Denmark, as a print designer for the iconic Scandinavian brand InWear Matinique. Here I was exposed to a whole new fashion culture, vibrant with the creative energy of a uniquely Danish aesthetic. A world away from the rarefied atmosphere of Italian high fashion, the Danish vision of design as an expression of lifestyle, was a revelation. It was the beginning of my journey from print designer towards an ever greater involvement in accessories – products that had practical as well as decorative values. The fabric of our everyday lives.
I returned the UK, to work in trend forecasting for Saks 5th Avenue, and as a member of the British Colour Group. This led to role with the UK’s largest fashion retailer Arcadia, where I was brought in to consult on trend, colour and fabric direction for the whole group, which included Harvey Nichols, Top Shop, Debenhams, Burtons and Principals. This high pressure environment working across multiple retailers with diverse brands provided an invaluable insight into the rigours of delivering high street fashion on a mass scale.

However, my Danish experience left me with the desire to broaden my work beyond fabrics, and an offer to become design coordinator for Laura Ashley provided that opportunity. At Laura Ashley, I was able to integrate clothing and accessories within a classic British lifestyle brand. The creative freedom it afforded, enabled me to style fashion shoots around the world, liaise with our Japanese licensee, and style catwalk shows.I now concentrated on handbag design, both for major high street brands including Marks and Spencer, and the bespoke luxury market. I have worked extensively in China and in Italy, and have been able to bring my wide ranging experience to bear on what I believe is the most exciting product area in fashion today. The importance of the handbag as the key accessory is fundamental to the fashion industry. Its a product that has transitioned from unadorned utility to become a defining fashion statement for women everywhere.

As a by product of my design work, I created a course in handbag design specifically for new designer entrepreneurs. Its aims to equip them with the broad range of skills needed to establish their own businesses in today’s highly competitive market. To date my former students have established over twenty new handbag companies around the world. For further information, please see my Courses page.